Anne Frank: The girl who lived in the most famous house in Amsterdam

Anne Frank: The girl who lived in the most famous house in Amsterdam

Anne Frank is easily one of the most famous names from Dutch history. In honour of her birthday, we delve into the tragically short life of this iconic girl, learn more about her internationally best-selling diary, and explain everything you need to know about visiting the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.

Who was Anne Frank?

As a young Jewish girl living in Europe in the 1930s and the 1940s, Anne Frank and her family were forced to take extreme measures in order to protect themselves. In 1942, Anne went into hiding in a building on the canals of Amsterdam, where she lived with seven other people until they were discovered by the Nazis in 1944.

Today, Anne Frank’s name and story are known around the world for one key reason: young Anne’s diary, which was first published in the Netherlands in 1947, has since been translated into 70 languages. Over 30 million copies have been sold worldwide.

Anne’s early life

Born Annelies Marie Frank in Germany on June 12, 1929, Anne spent the first years of her life in Frankfurt, where she and her family lived as Liberal or Progressive Jews, meaning they didn’t observe all the traditional customs of Judaism. Anne attended school and was encouraged to read by both her parents, who themselves had an extensive library.

Anne Frank’s family: Otto, Edith and Margot Frank

Anne might be the most well-known Frank, but she wasn’t the only one. In fact, she was the second-born daughter of Otto and Edith Frank, who were married at the synagogue in Aachen on May 12, 1925. Their eldest daughter, Margot -  named after Edith’s sister Bettina Holländer - was also born in Frankfurt.

From Frankfurt to Aachen to Amsterdam

Anne moved to Aachen with her family in 1933, after the Nazi Party won the German federal election and Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of the Reich. Here, while she was staying with her maternal grandma, Anne’s father - who had remained in Frankfurt - received an offer to set up a company in Amsterdam. 

Gradually, the Franks relocated to Amsterdam, with Anne being the last to make the move in February 1935. 

Anne Frank in Amsterdam

The Franks' move to Amsterdam was brought about after Otto received an offer from the German pectin and spice company Opekta (also known as Gies & Co.) to set up operations in the Netherlands. Otto was the first to relocate, moving to Amsterdam in 1935 before being joined by Edith, Margot, and finally Anne. 

The family moved into an apartment on the Merwedeplein in the city’s Rivierenbuurt, which was a popular neighbourhood for Jewish-German refugees. The family settled into life fairly quickly, picking up the Dutch language and establishing a network of friends. 

Hannah Goslar

While not part of Anne's family, Hannah Goslar has become known for her close relationship with the Franks' youngest daughter. Born in Germany with Israeli roots, Hannah attended school with Anne in Amsterdam, where they became best friends. 

Anne Frank's diary

It was during this time that Anne started to keep a diary. For her 13th birthday in 1942, she was gifted an autograph book which was fitted with a small lock. Anne started writing in it almost immediately, and decided to name her diary Kitty.

Alicia Fdez via Anne Frank House in Amsterdam

The hiding place

As Anne and her family started to build a life in the Netherlands, the reality was that they couldn’t run from the Nazi regime. On May 10, 1940, the Nazis invaded the Netherlands. Five days later, the Dutch army surrendered. 

Gradually, the Nazis introduced an increasing number of rules and regulations for Jews in the Netherlands. Otto attempted to arrange for the family to emigrate to the United States, but the visa application was lost when Rotterdam was bombed on May 14, 1940

Over time, Anne and Margot could no longer attend school - instead, they were required to attend the Jewish Lyceum which opened in September 1941. Soon, Otto and Edith started to make arrangements for the family to go into hiding on July 16, 1942, but plans had to be accelerated after Margot received a letter from the Central Office for Jewish Emigration on July 5, ordering her to report for relocation to a work camp.

On the morning of Monday, July 6, 1942, the Frank family went into hiding. They made sure to leave their own apartment in a state that made it obvious they’d fled in a hurry, and they were forced to leave the family pet, a cat called Moortje, behind. Otto left a note saying they were heading for Switzerland.

Anne Frank’s house

While the family’s home was located in the Rivierenbuurt, this is not the house where the Franks went into hiding. Instead, the family’s hiding place was located above the Opekta offices on the Prinsengracht. It was a cramped space, made up of just three stories, but for several years was the hiding place for a total of eight people; alongside Anne and her family, there were Hermann, Auguste and Peter van Pels, and Fritz Pfeffer.

Fritz Pfeffer, Hermann, Auguste and Peter van Pels

On July 13, 1942, the Franks were joined by the Van Pels family. Fritz Pfeffer, a dentist and friend of the family, followed in November of the same year. 

Anne’s relationship with the other residents was strained, largely due to the confined living space. Sharing a room with Pfeffer - a man in his early 50s - proved tricky, and she labelled him selfish, mainly because of how much food he ate. The same went for Hermann, and Anne also clashed with Auguste, who she thought was foolish. Anne did, however, form a close bond with 16-year-old Peter, who was only slightly older than her. 

Miep Gies

Miep Gies was one of the few workers at Opekta who knew the Franks were in hiding. Miep worked with her colleagues Victor Kugler, Johannes Kleiman, and Bep Voskuijl, as well as her husband Jan and Voskuijl’s father Johannes Hendrik Voskuijl, to supply the Achterhuis’ inhabitants with food and other necessities. They also worked to ensure their safety, and helped to keep them up to date on what was going on in the outside world.

Anne Frank House address

Known as the Achterhuis, the building in which Anne, her family, the Van Pels’ and Pfeffer went into hiding was - and is - located at the following address: 

Prinsengracht 263, 
1016 GV Amsterdam, 
The Netherlands.

Anne Frank house photos

These photos, acquired via the Amsterdam City Archive, offer a glimpse into what the Achterhuis looked like when Anne lived there in the early 1940s. The first shows Anne Frank's bedroom, which she shared with Pfeffer. In order to brighten up the bare space, Anne hung various images up on the wall next to her bed, including photos of movie stars and the Dutch royal family. The cramped room was furnished with two single beds and a small desk, which Anne and Pfeffer fought over.

Stadsarchief Amsterdam / Arsath Ro'is, J.M. Anne Frank's bedroom in the Secret Annex

The following two images show the small kitchen space that was shared by those hiding in the Achterhuis. It is also where Hermann and Auguste slept.

Stadsarchief Amsterdam / Arsath Ro'is, J.M. Kitchen in the Achterhuis

Stadsarchief Amsterdam / Arsath Ro'is, J.M. kitchen in the Achterhuis

Finally, the photo below shows the bookcase, which hid the door that led up to the Achterhuis.

Stadsarchief Amsterdam / Arsath Ro'is, J.M. Bookcase hiding the Achterhuis

The Diary of Anne Frank

Anne started writing in her diary before her family went into hiding, but she kept it up throughout her years in the Achterhuis. In her letters, she detailed the relationships between all those who were living together, and shared insights into her own thoughts and feelings. 

She spent a lot of her time reading and writing, and regularly wrote and edited her diary entries. Her final entry was made on August 1, 1944.

The betrayal

On the morning of August 4, 1944, the Achterhuis was stormed by German officers, and all those hiding were arrested, alongside Victor Kuglew and Johannes Kleiman. The Franks, the Van Pelses and Pfeffer were interrogated and detained at the RSHA headquarters overnight before being transferred to a detention centre on the Weteringschans. Two days later the group were moved to the Westerbork transit camp in the province of Drenthe.

Who betrayed Anne Frank?

The reason for the raid on the Achterhuis remains ambiguous - many theories have circulated over the past several decades. One possible explanation is that Bep’s younger sister, Nelly, who was a Nazi collaborator between the ages of 19 and 23, had informed German officers of the hiding spot. 

Research published by the Anne Frank House in 2016 suggests that an investigation over ration card fraud is the reason Anne and the others were discovered.

Most recently - but controversially - a team of 23 international investigators reported in 2022 that Anne’s hiding spot had been leaked by Jewish notary Arnold van den Bergh, who passed on the addresses of Jewish hiding spots to the Nazis in order to protect himself and his family. This theory has been widely criticised, and a report published in August of the same year argued that it was the product of source fraud.

How did Anne Frank die?

Anne and the others from the Achterhuis were ultimately sent to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp. The Frank family was separated upon arrival; Anne, Margot and Edith were sent to the women’s labour camp, while Otto went to the men’s camp. 

Anne and her sister Margot spent only a few months at Auschwitz, and in November 1944 were sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. At the camp, Anne was briefly reunited with her schoolfriend Hannah Goslar. However, as a result of the awful conditions - there was little food, it was cold and wet, and disease spread quickly - Anne and Margot quickly contracted typhus. 

Both Margot and Anne died in February 1945. Otto was the only one out of the eight hiding in the Achterhuis to survive the war. Hannah also survived; she later emigrated to Israel with her younger sister, where she worked as a nurse for children.

The Anne Frank museum

The story of Anne and those hiding in the Achterhuis is told, not just through her best-selling diary, but also in a detailed exhibition at the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam, which also gives members of the public the chance to step inside the Achterhuis and see how Anne lived.

Henk Vrieselaar via Anne Frank House Museum Amsterdam

Anne Frank House tickets

The Anne Frank House and corresponding museum can only be visited with a pre-booked ticket for a specific time slot. Tickets are available to buy online via the museum’s website. Tickets cannot be exchanged or refunded, and are non-transferrable.

How much do tickets cost?

Including a 1-euro online booking charge, the entrance fees for the Anne Frank House are as follows:

  • Young children (0 to 9 years): 1 euro
  • Children and teenagers: 7 euros 
  • Adults: 16 euros

Special rates also apply to those with a Museumkaart, an ICOM card, or a European Youth Card (EYC). There are no discounts for students.

Last-minute Anne Frank House tickets

The Anne Frank House is one of Amsterdam’s most popular attractions and museums, and as tickets need to be pre-booked it might be tricky to get your hands on some last-minute tickets, especially if you’re visiting during peak tourist season or are hoping to go on an especially busy day.

There is no waiting list for tickets - the only thing you can do is keep checking the Anne Frank House website and hope that you might be lucky. Tickets are released six weeks in advance, every Tuesday at 10am. 

The museum website does warn those hoping to find cheap or last-minute tickets should note that a number of sites offer “invalid tickets”.

The legacy: Anne Frank in popular culture

Unsurprisingly, Anne Frank has left a lasting legacy, not just in the Netherlands but around the world. Alongside the charitable foundation set up in her name by her father and the Anne Frank House, which opened on May 3, 1960, she has also made a number of appearances in popular culture.

Anne Frank film

Over the past several decades, have been a number of films about Anne Frank’s life. The first film adaptation of her diary was released in 1959. Since then, there have been many more adaptations, as well as more modern interpretations of her writings. 

Two more recent and successful films covering the life of Anne Frank are the animated film Where is Anne Frank (2021), and the Dutch film My Best Friend Anne Frank (2021), which tells the story of the friendship between Hannah and Anne.

Anne Frank statue

There are two Anne Frank statues in Amsterdam, one located on the Merwedeplein near her family’s old apartment, and another on the Westermarkt, around the corner from the Anne Frank Museum. 

The statue on the Westermarkt was unveiled in 1977 by then-mayor Ivo Samkalden and Anne’s father Otto. The statue on the Merwedeplein is more recent, and was unveiled in 2005. It depicts Anne as she might have looked on July 6, when her family left their home and went into hiding. 

While both are important parts of Anne’s legacy, the world’s first statue of Anne Frank is actually located in Utrecht, which was presented to the city council on April 30, 1959.

Alicia Fdez via Anne Frank Statue in Amsterdam

Anne Frank schools

There are over 200 schools around the world that have been named after Anne Frank, including around 100 which are located in Germany. Overall, there are 17 in the Netherlands, one of which is Anne Frank’s old primary school, the 6th Montessori School, which was renamed the 6th Montessori School Anne Frank (also known as the Anne Frank School) in 1957.

In addition to this, in 1997 the Anne Frank Education Centre was established in Frankfurt, in the neighbourhood where Anne spent the first few years of her life. The centre aims to “sensitise young people and adults to anti-Semitism, racism and other forms of misanthropy - and to strengthen them for active participation in an open, democratic society.”

Anne Frank quotes

Unsurprisingly, the writings in Anne’s diary contain a number of memorable and poignant quotes. Some of the most famous ones include:

  • “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
  • “What is done cannot be undone, but one can prevent it happening again.”
  • “I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.”
  • “Whoever is happy will make others happy too.”
  • “No one has ever become poor by giving.”
  • “I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”

Remembering the young Jewish girl who changed the world

Anne Frank’s life may have been tragically short, but her experiences - noted down and shared through her diary - have changed the world.

Thumb: GiuseppeCrimeni via

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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